40 Year Ago Today (Tuesday)
I was in the hospital watching TV, staring at my orange so hungry I thought I might just expire. 40 years ago today the nurse gave me the injection and I thought how ridiculous, I had given mom shots plenty of times but for some reason I was not yet trained so I was forbidden from doing it myself. After the not trained thing it was about 2 hours and the orange and syringe showed up with the bottle of saline. A nun came by (it was a catholic hospital) to give me injection advice. I had a real cotton ball and I was supposed to put the water on it from a real bottle of alcohol, filled with water. I was instructed for the first time about how I was dealing with real drugs, and I needed to be careful. Thus I could now be trusted with a real bottle of isopropyl alcohol filled with water to practice my injections on the orange. For fun I pressed the bottle to my lips, acted like I was drinking from it, which freaked out the young nurse and sent her running away. The bottle was taken away and I got my second lecture of the day about drug safety.
I was bored out of my mind. I was housed on an adult ward with lights out at 9 PM and TV’s off by 9:30. I watched mine most of the night while I got a semi nod of approval from the night nurse. It was driving me nuts. It seemed like every rule they had I was determined to break. I mean how much trouble could a patient get in? What were they going to do ask me to leave? Put me in isolation? Lock me up? Well ok they could lock me up, but they were not going to do so.
I was having really nice fun in a stolen wheel chair racing around the halls which were in a perfect square configuration with a connecting hall that went right through the middle. The nurses said it as a perfectly laid out efficient system so they could pass easily between the two sides without walking around. I saw a figure 8 and a demolition derby. Trouble was I was on the medical ward and they were a little more serious up here. Strict food rations, strict exercise, strict rules and strict decorum, after all patients were ill on this floor. Visiting hours were divided between two daily periods, 2 to 4 and 6 to 8. No exceptions for this floor. Also no stolen wheel chairs, mine was removed starting day 3 with a stern lecture.
Well this caused my mind to wonder and as many of you know when my mind wonders I get into trouble. This day was no different. I was feeling better, even though I was supposed to be confined to my bed / room. As I say I was bored out of my mind and there sat the orange and the syringe. I thought things over and I figured hey I have a couple options I could practice injections and see if I could blow the orange up with water and saline. I figured if I injected maybe 100 full syringes I might literally pop the peel and watch it explode. Or I could do what I longed to do which was eat it. I ate it. The peel landed in a different room and I got rid of the syringe in a different room and the needle in a central sharps container. Yeah all evidence gone. I had to be given two shots that day and that would be my morning routine for several years to come. Oh hum I was so bored.
In the afternoon the dietician’s assistant came and got me for the first of my diabetic education classes. Any of you who ever learned the exchange diet, know it was a mess to administer. One milk, two grains, 6 fats, good grief, I knew instantly I was never doing this. Half way through training I asked why this worked and the dietician stopped and told me to stick to questions that pertained to class. I was informed I was being placed on a 1500 calorie ADA diet. Well let’s start off by saying three days ago I had been eating the Rick Phillips special 3,000 calorie per meal diet. I mean pretty much whatever I wanted I was eating and losing weight. So when I showed up at the hospital and am put on a 1500 calorie diet, I was like yeah right, your nuts. Yum nuts where could I get some of those? The dietician informed me of the special relationship between food and diabetes which was not lost on me since I was so darn hungry. Hey dietician I got it, stop with the lesson let’s eat.
What I was not during this week in 1974 was a pooping machine. This started what I called the four day poop inquisition. It started innocently enough have you gone number 2 today. Number 2, I asked? I pretended I had no idea what the nurse was asking, where was number 2 going I asked innocently. You know, have you gone number 2? I said well I knew 1 and 1 equaled 2? This persisted for a few minutes until the aide left the room. Lawrence said the ward nurse have you pooped she said? Yes I said. When she asked? Last week I think maybe the week before? Certainly I had when I was 6, I said. Why I asked? Because you must poop each day was the response. Well great than feed me I said. Because right now I am on subsistence rations and I am withering away, I claimed. That drew a stern rebuke to treat the aides better and answer their questions no funny business. Oh yeah the gantlet had been laid and the daily poop misunderstanding was on a course of its own. Each day I got worse threats to poop or never leave, and a stern admonition to call the nurse to see my invisible poop which I started having on Thursday. On Friday I had to produce or I could not call my parents to come get me. I promised to bring some over next week to show them if they let me leave on Friday. I told them I could ride my bicycle over and give it to them personally on Monday or Tuesday latest. Yeah that week poop was a big thing.
So at the conclusion of day 2 of my official diabetic holiday at château St. Joseph, this is what I knew about diabetes: 1. Pooping seemed important even if you didn’t need too, 2. You should not pretend drink the fake alcohol, 3. The oranges they hand out were not really very good (they had seeds) and 4. I was going to be hungry 24/7 for the rest of my life. Oh I guess number 5 do not race wheel chairs around the medical floor of the hospital because people are sick here. Wow the youthful insights one gets from the hospital. Life lessons learned.